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Invasion 2001: Was It Really That Bad?

December 14, 2019 | Posted by Justin Watry
Invasion 2001

Sometimes in wrestling, it is difficult to see the forest from the trees. What may seem pointless, horrible, laughable or bad story telling like The Firefly Funhouse promos debuting could turn into The Fiend Bray Wyatt as a dominant WWE Champion. Just as giving creative geniuses like Paul Heyman the head of a company could result in financial disaster and bankruptcy like ECW in 2001. We can’t use 20/20 hindsight in that very moment. However, looking back on things, it gives a little bit of perspective.

Invasion 2001: Was It Really THAT Bad?

INTRODUCTION: Invasion 2001 holds the distinction of being the most purchased pay-per-view in WWE history, not counting WrestleManias. More than any Royal Rumble, Summerslam, Survivor Series, etc. This! Obviously a high honor. Yet, it is often used as a punchline. Thus, I have to ask why…?

Opening Video Package – An awesome opening if you ask me. The entire basis of the build was ECW and WCW coming together to form The Alliance (simply called a coalition in the beginning) to take down the WWF (WWE). It was great stuff. Lots of cool moments inside the promo. It was Vince McMahon defending his legacy against the likes of his ungrateful children Shane and Stephanie McMahon, alongside inside mole Paul Heyman to lead the charge. Very cool premise and with a lot of talent to go around, there was a sense of unpredictability we have never seen before. What’s funny is up until a couple weeks before this PPV it was still being called Fully Loaded. I actually liked that name. Anyways, Cleveland gets to host this historic event, and we kick it off with Jim Ross and Michael Cole on commentary talking about the importance of tonight.

Tag Match – Lance Storm and Mike Awesome vs. Edge and Christian is our opener. Of all the amazing dream matches you could have drawn up in the Monday Night Wars, this starts the invading pay-per-view. Lance Storm is about to tell us all about why Invasion is so big, until Edge and Christian interrupt. Based on the WWE Network airing, Awesome and Storm were already in the ring when we were sent to the ring. Probably not a good sign. Kinda cool though that Storm was really the first to invade, and now he is in the first bout. At the time, Christian and Edge had been teasing tension ever since Edge won King of the Ring and Christian got crewed out of his semi-finals match. Christian was even carrying Edge’s KOTR trophy around for weeks afterwards. Pretty solid match to start here. Edge and Christian did not tease any breakup here; things were put on the back burner for awhile here once WCW and ECW showed up.

Backstage – Vince McMahon is excited about the opening victory for his side. William Regal enters to tell him that Stone Cold Steve Austin and his wife Debra had arrived. The OLD Stone Cold had arrived. This was a play on six nights earlier when we got the infamous Raw ending with The Texas Rattlesnake coming out to save Team WWF and giving out stunners to anybody that moved. The OLD Stone Cold was needed, not the singing and ‘soft’ one we had since aligning with Vince at WrestleMania X-7. Still to this day, the RAW ending before Invasion 2001 may be the greatest five minutes to ever conclude a wrestling show. So good.

Referees Clash – Yep, the referees even fought. Nick Patrick vs. Earl Hebnar. The two even got a video package to hype up their match. Seriously. Mick Foley was the special guest ref because why the heck not? The referees for WCW and WWF were outside the ring and eventually provided their own distractions. Jim Ross called it bowling shoe ugly which is putting it nicely. After two minutes, Hebnar won with a spear, tackle, gore thingy. Patrick protested at Foley after the bell and received Socko for his troubles. Silly stuff but crowd loved it.

Backstage – Debra and Sara were shown backstage. Debra was showing frustration about the entire WCW/WCW invasion. Specifically about DDP who had been causing them a headache. No use getting into that whole mess. Sara calls The Undertaker “Mark” and Debra can’t wait for Stone Cold to get his hands on Diamond Dallas Page. BANG!

Tag Champs Collide – APA taking on Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire was up next. Yet another video package. Basically, Bradshaw and Faarooq were the gatekeepers of the company not letting just anybody walk right in. They were the WWF Tag Team Champions, thus it made sense that the WCW Tag Team Champions took offense to them. Easy set up for the non-title showdown. To the shock of nobody, WWF picked up another victory here. Okay match but nothing memorable. Three in a row on the main show. Counting Sunday Night Heat, the score was now 3-1. Chavo Guerrero beat Scotty 2 Hotty, which did give WCW/ECW some kind of win early on. For those wondering if they counted Heat as part of the score, they did. It was mentioned later.

Backstage – Vince McMahon was giving a pep talk to Chris Jericho who said he had been in the other companies. They made fun of Paul Heyman’s weight calling him Shrek but put him over as a genius who had to have something up his sleeve. Vinny Mac responds by saying they will never evvvvvvvvvvvvvvver be the same again. From there, we go to Billy Kidman hanging out with Stephanie/Shane McMahon in the locker room. Shane gives Kidman a rallying speech to get their side back on track. Remember three straight losses? Paul Heyman walks in and says it is all up to Kidman, who is the Cruiserweight Champion. He says he will show everybody why X-Pac sucks. Clever.

Champions Fight – As noted, Billy Kidman vs. X-Pac was next, the Crusierweight Champion from WCW taking on the Light Heavyweight Champion from WWF. Yeah, the Light Heavyweight Title was still a thing, as was X-Pac. Kidman actually got a somewhat decent reaction out there. The dude was under rated in my opinion. Not some main event act or anything like that but could always deliver inside the ring when given a chance. No wonder he was kept on television through most of 2001-2003 for WWE Smackdown. Like he proclaimed, Kidman won getting The Alliance some much needed momentum. Shane, Steph, Heyman, and DDP are shown clapping. Page says he is in Austin’s head and will prove it later.

Tease – Torrie Wilson and Stacy Kiebler tease us viewers at home. Talking about their Bra And Panties Match with Trish Stratus and Lita, first Torrie gropes herself and then spanks Stacy after she bends over to show off her long legs. Um, yeah. Enough for any teenager to get excited for the match. The real tease of this segment was them wanting to show off their bodies ONLY to Matt and Jeff Hardy and not the fans. Of course, who had been linked to Trish and Lita at the time. Home wreckers I guess? Either way, that story line never went anywhere.

Raven VS William Regal – Back on the board for The Alliance. In just over six minutes, Raven defeats William Regal thanks to interference from Tazz. Crowd got restless here and didn’t care. I agree. Total nothing match to give The Alliance a win on the card. It’s funny because Regal was a corporate suck up to Vince McMahon at the time but doing so as a face. However, before the invasion stuff started, he was doing the exact same thing but as a heel. Then in October 2001, he turned heel (again?) to do the corporate suck up deal with The Alliance. Yet, when the story line ended and he returned to WWF, he went back to being a Vince McMahon stooge, as a heel again. So confusing. On a side note, I have always loved the stage for Invasion 2001. WWF stars came out of one side, while The Alliance stars came out of the other. Small touch.

Backstage – I should note that I am actually digging all these backstage segments. Seems like a lot on paper but fits with the overall theme of the PPV. Vince McMahon is backstage upset about another loss. Talking to The Undertaker and Kane, he tries to motivate them by bringing up all the private video tapes DDP may have of Sara from the past few months. Taker eventually puts his hand around Vince to choke him and says he will get the best Undertaker tonight. Nice. Vince smiles…he is really motivating his star studded team for the main event Inaugural Brawl.

Six Man Tag – Did you know Albert was the IC Champion? He was. Albert, Big Show, and Billy Gunn vs. Chris Kanyon, Hugh Morrus, and Shawn Stasiak was out next featured matchup. Not quite what many envisioned when thinking of all the cool WWF/WCW battles, huh? Clocking in at just over four minutes, you can tell this show is being padded filler bouts to give The Alliance some wins. I noticed it before, but now you can definitely tell. None of these guys were doing anything. As mentioned, Albert was IC Champ and came out to crickets. The ShowGunns never did a thing of note, and the three Alliance members who wrestled here…ugh. In a fairly big upset, Morrus actually pinned Gunn. Immediately afterwards, Big Show came in and cleaned house. Amazing he went from this disaster to the Survivor Series 2001 Winner Take All main event four months later. He had quite the year.

Backstage – Booker T was getting his United States AND WCW Titles shined up nicely by Shane McMahon. An omen of what was to come next for him? Shane talked about how The Alliance was on a roll, as Booker called everyone a Sucker. Now can you dig that? Tajiri received an impromptu match against Tazz due to the order of William Regal. For revenge of Regal getting screwed earlier. I can’t remember if this was announced in advance or not, as Tazz’s music was already playing. Either way, WWF got back their mojo as Tajiri beat Tazz in about five minutes. Gotta love that green mist! Tajiri being the lackey to Regal made for some great comedy in 2001, but it was all serious business here at Invasion 2001. No nonsense at all. This show desperately needs a spark. I know the main event is hot and features a jacked up crowd…so far though, meh. Filler match after filler match. Incredible the pay-per-view buy rate was so freakin’ high because it was all about the main event.

Backstage – Jeff Hardy was stretching backstage with the Hardcore Title as Matt Hardy asked if the girls would be alright (Trish and Lita). Jeff said not to worry about them. Rob Van Dam snuck in and nailed Matt Hardy with a steel chair as Jeff ran him off. I like it. Evening the odds for the upcoming RVD/Jeff Hardcore Championship bout. We then see a clip of Hardcore Holly yelling at a fan at WWF New York for wearing a WCW shirt. Rips it off his chest and throws it at him, haha. Somehow I believe Holly would do that.

Hardcore Title – Here we go! RVD going after the Hardcore Title was interesting because fans loved Jeff Hardy. However, even though he was with The Alliance, fans have always dug Rob Van Dam. Within months, he would find himself against Chris Jericho, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, The Rock, Kane, Big Show and The Undertaker on pay-per-view to close out 2001. Very impressive. Here, it was all about him and Jeff Hardy going to the extreme. They would have a Hardcore Title ladder match at Summerslam in August, but this showdown was better. Just a no rules fight with two guys busting out moves and a lively crowd. The fans in Cleveland really woke up here. RVD ended up winning, giving The Alliance some WWF gold. The only title match of the evening actually. The highlights are aplenty. Crowd brawl, flippy stuff, Jeff Hardy flying off ladder, stage fall, moves off barricade, blood, Five Star Frogsplash on the title, etc. With many of the bigger names from WCW and ECW NOT coming in at the time, RVD was on a higher pedestal and absolutely delivered big time. At 12 minutes, this is the second longest match of the evening and action packed from start to finish. I highly suggest checking this out on the WWE Network if you have never seen it. Cool at the time and still cool 18 years later.

Backstage – Yep, Vince McMahon again! This time, he is talking to Kurt Angle using the United States of America as his motivation. Angle says enough of this BS – except he actually uses the cuss word. He simply says he is going to do it for his country, his country and for himself. Fiery promo. No wonder he became one of the most popular faces after this.

Bra And Panties Match – Hey, a video package for this too. Stacy and Torrie were messing with The Hardyz, and that brought out Trish and Lita. Enemies became friends to take on a common enemy. You know, that whole thing. Mick Foley is the special guest ref once again. That lucky son of a gun. Funny his shirt as all three logos on it – WWF, WCW, and ECW. I suppose that makes him official. Torrie and Stacy are out first with separate entrances, trying to sweet talk Mick. He plays along but is trying to play it cool. As expected, this was nothing but five minutes of fans whistling and cat calling as the clothes came off little by little. Trish and Lita did a few wrestling moves in there, but Stacy and Torrie could only do so much. Trish and Lita ended up winning and as they backed up the ramp, they almost fell right down into a pit between the staging area. Oops. That would have made for a nasty fall. As we wrap things up, we see Mick Foley pocketing the bra and panties left in the ring.

Backstage – All tied up at five wins a piece heading into the main event, Paul Heyman gives his troops from WCW and ECW a speech for the ages. So great listening to him pump up the guys. Then in comes Shane and Stephanie for their own pep talk. They are united and ready to go! We then cut to a silent Stone Cold just sitting in a room all alone. Vince McMahon walks in, and he seems worried. They are all tied up, and all of this rests on the OLD Stone Cold being on his ‘A’ game. Steve Austin cuts him off and says he doesn’t need no pep rally. He just wants to whip somebody’s…we, you know. Because that’s that bottom line because Stone Cold said so! Wow, that will give any wrestling fan goosebumps. This truly did feel like an epic main event with all the stakes in the world on the line when in reality, nothing was on the line.

Inaugural Brawl – One of my favorite video packages ever! Such a well put together promo. Unbelievable story telling and dramatic music at the end with the OLD Stone Cold coming back to save Team WWF. Of course, hindsight would tell us all how that ended up. Either way, we got a whole bunch of entrances. It was Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, The Undertaker, Kane, and Chris Jericho representing the WWF to battle Rhyno, The Dudleyz, DDP, and Booker T representing WCW and ECW. Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, Paul Heyman, and Vince McMahon were all ringside. Fitting that the PPV is in Cleveland as that is where the infamous March 26th Raw was as well when Shane bought WCW out from under the nose of Vince. Oh mylanta, getting chills just having flashbacks to this time period.

After Stone Cold comes out to an eruption from the fans, a massive brawl unfolds. We do inevitably settle into a normal tag team match for about twenty minutes…until things just break down into madness. Stone Cold “hurts” his knee, so he is being looked at by a doctor (a ruse to set up his big turn). The Undertaker and DDP fought into the crowd and were gone for the rest of the event. Kane had chokeslammed D-Von through a table. Kane had been suplexed through a table by Rhyno and Bubba Ray. Chris Jericho and Rhyno then rammed through a table at ringside as well. Carnage outside of the squared circle with bodies laying everywhere. Kurt Angle is left in the ring battling both Bubba Ray and Booker T but NO referee! At this point, we get the predictable involvement from the McMahon with Shane taking out Vince before Angle takes out Shane! That allows the two legal men to continue, with Kurt Angle having the Ankle Lock on Booker T as he is tapping like a drunk man! We need a referee! We need a referee!

Stone Cold pops up, grabs the referee but first attacks Kurt Angle with a Stunner. As everyone looks on shocked, he rolls Booker T onto Angle and demands the ref to count. One, two, three. We got the OLD Stone Cold alright. The heel turn from WrestleMania X-7 was not enough apparently. After teasing the fan favorite version of Steve Austin returning in the leadup, it was all to just twist the knife one more time. Stone Cold joined up with The Alliance giving them the six to five victory for Invasion 2001 and allowing them bragging rights for the next few months. The beer bash was on, as good ol’ JR began crowing like only he can, asking “Why?”

SUMMARY: As noted, this is the most bought non-WM PPV in company history. There are two main reasons why. First is obviously the Raw go-home ending. I do not care what anybody says – that sold pay-per-views. The tease of Stone Cold being back to himself and taking out the invading companies to save us all was incredible. Jim Ross was never better. The other reason was the speculation and rumors of so many ECW and WCW stars debuting. It was all false and a whole bunch of false hope, but I was there just like everyone else in 2001. Where was Ric Flair? Hulk Hogan? Rey Mysterio? Kevin Nash? Scott Hall? Eric Bischoff? Scott Steiner? Sid? Goldberg? Lex? Sandman? Buff Bagwell? Okay, only kidding; we got that clown for a week before he was rightfully kicked to the curb. Long story short, there was a ton of excitement surrounding this event. Did it live up to the hype? No. It was an okay show. I actually had fun re-watching this. Little knock fact – Invasion 2001 was the very first thing I watched on the WWE Network when the service launched in February 2014, as I have a soft spot for the entire story line. Here though, we had RVD/Hardy, a tag team Bra and Panties match, and a huge clash of stars in the main event with the second (failed) attempt at a heel Stone Cold in 2001. Memorable, unique, historic and still remembered to the day. Not the fantasy booking many dreamed of but a passable pay-per-view even if expectations were set way too high…so I ask all of you. Invasion 2001, was it really THAT bad?

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Invasion 2001, Justin Watry